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Gendered Violence, Memory, and Public History: The American Collective Narrative of the Holocaust

  • Author(s): Grucza, Emily
  • Advisor(s): McGarry, Molly
  • et al.
Creative Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

The focus of this thesis is how women’s experiences during the Holocaust, particularly experiences concerning sexualized and gendered violence, are mostly excluded from the public-facing American understanding and narrative of the Holocaust. This collective narrative has formed through individual and collective memory, immigration, politics, popular media, academic scholarship, and museums, and is reinforced in public education. Although scholarship has examined sexualized violence and gendered experiences perpetrated by the Nazis and others during the Holocaust, U.S. public educational institutions like the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) have not yet caught up in terms of inclusive exhibition. My main intervention is discussing the disconnect between scholarship and museum content through examining the USHMM’s materials on women’s experiences during the Holocaust and critiquing their online exhibitions, as well as offering possible solutions to make a more inclusive and correct narrative. One of these solutions is my supplementary online exhibition plan about women’s medical experiences in the concentration camps. I also intervene in the museum’s materials on women by discussing the experiences of German lesbians and masculine-presenting women during World War II. I intervene in the USHMM’s materials about women in order to strengthen public education and encourage accuracy and inclusivity in the American collective narrative of the Holocaust.

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